October 17, 2014

A little breakthrough on the Vuillard-inspired painting

close up detail of the face & flowers
 This painting went through a lot of stages. It was inspired by a Vuillard painting I saw this summer and wanted to see if I could set up a painting in that spirit (it's posted earlier in the blog).  I started with a model in a dining room in Maine and a sketch.  After a second round on the painting a month later, I had added paint and lost the loose feel of the sketch and hadn't really come closer to my goal.

Today I simplified the space by eliminating the view into the room beyond on the right and darkening the doorway on the left.  The dark doorway was in the Vuillard painting and (no surprise) had a vital role to play in the composition.

I loosened up the whole thing again, what an improvement.  The detail close up on the left really shows what a great change that was.  One funny thing about cropping an image to show a detail is that it also highlights another way the painting could have been set up and suggests where I need to be thinking next.  The expansive room has its advantages, but I can see how the close up painting is pretty appealing.

When people ask me about how my art has changed from working in a studio in the last 10 months, I think I can now point to this series of painting stages to say -- I could only do this with the dedicated studio time I now have at Studio B.  It's made a huge difference in the way I work.  While I still enjoy the immediacy of a painting done "alla prima," I now can rethink work and take it from that first impression to a more considered and (I hope!) better result.
the finished painting

an interim step

the original sketch, painted in a dining room in Maine

October 16, 2014

Still Life with Oranges

Seeing the objective view of the way I'm set up right now... makes me realize I need to clean my studio.   The unfinished paintings leaning against the wall need to go somewhere.

I had a bag of oranges in the fridge and the first one I cut open to eat was dry, which is what inspired me to cut them up for the still life.  Of course, the second one was juicy.  But nevermind, I had flowers leftover from the weekend and a straw hat in the studio.  

The camera in my phone sure makes the wall look like it's a really warm yellow.  I started the painting that way and it was, well, too warm, so I changed it to blue.

October 10, 2014


 The detail at left shows the grapes in the still life I painted tonight.  Not that I haven't painted grapes before, but they have given me plenty of trouble.  I was very, very happy with the way they came out tonight!

The whole painting is close, but not done.  In spite of the change from light left side to darker right side in the vase and the dramatic shadow of the arrangement, the flowers are too evenly lit. I'll go back into it tomorrow (the flowers should still be perky) and fix that.

October 9, 2014

Studio Puzzles

I've been messing around with two paintings, just to work on some ideas.  I don't have a finished painting in mind for either of them,  but here they are.

 The Maine painting is worked with a limited palette and I've been playing with getting the mood of late afternoon Maine light diffused by the angle of the sun.  So far I've scraped it down 4 times to change the level of detail (too much, too little...) and I've done a lot of mixing up what's warm and what's cool.  I had some foreground plants in a blur that I've removed, they just didn't add anything.
These portraits of my daughter, niece and her son are making their way through some facial expressions.  Smiles and teeth are a challenge to paint!  But I keep on adjusting it and the likeness comes and goes as I do.

October 1, 2014

Revisiting an interior painting

This Vuillard was the inspiration
Earlier this summer, when I saw a Vuillard interior painting in Seattle, I was just enthralled.  I couldn't stop thinking about it. When I got to Maine in August, I asked my friend to take seat at the dining room table so I could try to set up a scene inspired by the Vuillard painting.

I got home with the sketch and it's been sitting in my studio for the past month.  I went back into it today -- I decided against keeping it and painting on a new canvas -- to see if I could make the sketch into a real painting.

I'm not done yet! As always, I like the looseness of the sketch, but I think I've solved some of the issues in the sketch and will keep working on it.

This is what I worked on in the studio today
This was the quick sketch in Maine